Today is shaping up as a particularly good day, because tomorrow I’m flying home from London, and – for 3 weeks, at any rate – I’ll get to kiss my wife and kids, eat at my favorite taquerias, and fill my kitchen with the all the symphony of colors, sounds and smells of mid-summer Sonoma County markets. I really miss the lot of them, most especially the wife and kids, but also the whole of my left-behind life in the County, like some essential and irreplaceable toiletry that you discover has gone missing right at the beginning of a long journey. OK, a bit more than a toiletry, but it’s that constant sense of nagging loss that always seems to crop up when I’m away for long stretches.
Anyway, as a night cap to my 3 weeks in England’s capital city, I managed to finagle a table at The Ledbury, recipient of 2 freshly minted Michelin stars and – at least according to the overtly pretentious and self-important Top 50 list – the 34th best restaurant in the world. Quite frankly, I don’t care what the Top 50 says, I’m just looking forward to eating at Aussie wunderkind Brett Graham’s local venison, which I’m told, by those with more discerning palates than mine, is utterly magnificent: roasted on the bone, in hay with Douglas fir, and yielding a tender, sweet piece of meat with just the right edge of wild that all great venison must have:
Hopefully, my last meal will help take the sting out of missing out on the London tabloids’ treatment of Herr Murdoch and his fiendish phone-hacking scandal, because if there’s one thing I’m going to miss when I land State-side, it’s the British press version of scandale, so in-your-face and bullying it makes the American version seem downright cowering.
Actually, that’s not entirely fair: I’ll miss the parks, the exquisite head of a properly drawn Guinness, and the wry bite of English banter, understated and razor sharp, able to insult you long before you’ve realized it and long after you can do anything about it. But I’ll be back soon, at which point I’m sure to start bitching about jet lag and oddly-named foods all over again.